Bob Garfield

TrendWatch: Why SnapTags are replacing QR codes

Glamour magazine recently included a SnapTag on its cover, resulting in more than 100,000 scans. Jeff Hayzlett tells us why we need to dump the QR code for the cleaner, simpler SnapTag.

Glamour magazine posted a SnapTag alongside a sequined Rinanna on their September cover. Users accessed the code either by scanning it with a proprietary SnapTag app, or by snapping a pic and sending it to the number printed in the image. The resulting response included over 100,000 code activations, 50,000 Facebook likes, and 500,000 interactions of some kind including code scans and peer sharing.

SnapTags are 2-D barcodes that include a brand's logo (or a Facebook logo) in a notched circle design. Contrasted with the familiar QR code, the result seems minimalist and polished. But it's not just a new design. The interactivity and analytics are updated, as well.

Here's Jeff Hayzlett talking about why he likes the new, cleaner SnapTags.

What brands are "getting it?" And what are the best places to use scannable codes? Here's our 4-minute interview with Jeff.

Conversation highlights

0:00 - Don't delete Facebook comments
0:00 - "If you suck offline, you'll suck online."
0:35 - PepsiCo, Macy's and other brands that are doing it right
1:00 - SnapTags
1:40 - The best places to use scannable codes
2:20 - Are users fluent enough to adopt SnapTags?
2:35 - Proving value to the CFO
2:55 - ROI = Return on Ignoring
3:25 - The power of mobile usage

Run time is 4:09

Jeffrey Hayzlett has been called a lot of things, most of them good. He has been described as a “CMO on steroids,” who parlayed what he learned running his own businesses into his position as Kodak’s CMO, where he helped revitalize one of the world’s iconic brands. Forbes magazine anointed him the “Celebrity CMO,” because of his countless media appearances, including on Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice.” And Advertising Age calls him “a new style of CMO,” especially for his social media skills that made him one of the top ten C-level executive Twitterers in the world.



J.D. Gershbein
J.D. Gershbein December 30, 2011 at 6:19 PM

Jeffrey is always a compelling interview.

He knows what works and what doesn't. Looking forward to reading his new book, "Running the Gauntlet."

Brian Asner
Brian Asner November 29, 2011 at 10:14 PM

Hi Jeff,

This is a provocative question, but I believe the two code types can live in harmony. They just serve slightly different needs depending on the goals of your campaign.

We actually broke down the differences between QR codes and SnapTags in a helpful infographic at Feel free to share it with anyone asking a similar question!

Roger Matus
Roger Matus November 29, 2011 at 2:44 PM

The truth of the matter is that SnapTags are not replacing QR Codes or even Microsoft Tags. You can read the Nellymoser report on">QR market share to see. I quote from the report:

"Almost all of the (1155) action codes printed in the Top 100 magazines were either QR Codes or Microsoft Tags (92%). QR codes are the most widely used at 62% of all action codes with Microsoft Tags in a strong second place at 30%. ....

"SpyderLynk and JagTag each show single digit market share with growth in Q3. However, this does not appear to represent a trend. Each company landed specific large campaigns, but failed to garner broad acceptance:

"SpyderLynk focused on two magazine issues: Of the 39 SnapTags in Q3, Glamour had 31 (in September) and InStyle had six (in July)."

At the end of the day, one or two data points does not make a trend.

John Parsons
John Parsons November 29, 2011 at 12:21 AM

Agreed! Next to the use of a non-mobile-optimized site, the absence of meaningful responses (i.e., an action that users would find valuable -AND- that makes sense on a mobile device) is the most common error in print-to-mobile campaigns.

Deanna Lawrence
Deanna Lawrence November 28, 2011 at 11:58 PM

It is true some codes have become common place to us savvy scanners. Still, I worry more about ugly brand experiences following the scan! It is also important to consider the levels of insight each tag, code or scanned content offers. Extending brand experience via mobile requires attention to the user at every stage of the process and this includes response.

John Parsons
John Parsons November 28, 2011 at 9:00 PM

Nick & Jo: well said! One of the appealing (and valuable) attributes of QR is that it's an open standard, used by MANY reader apps. The fact that generic QR is often ugly is not an argument against the format, but against the the advertiser who lacks the imagination to create an attractive tag. Those same QR abusers also tend to create poor mobile experiences, which only add to the negative perception.

BTW, I'm not against proprietary codes, per se. There are some really creative things you can do with MS Tag, for example. (Check out the Paula McMath example on The real issue is that open standards -- applied intelligently -- have a better chance of sustainable success than a proprietary approach. Remember CueCat?

Nick Ford
Nick Ford November 28, 2011 at 7:06 PM

Sorry guys but this is pretty poor. SnapTags aren't easy to recognize at all like a QR code is. The "ugly" factor is the best thing about QR. They STICK OUT! SnapTags do NOT. This is just another proprietary 2D code claiming to be prettier than a QR code. Our attempts to be "cooler" are only confusing the consumer more. Whatever happened to JagTag btw? lol. The numbers that are being reported are total by Glamour are totally bogus.

Jo Oskoui
Jo Oskoui November 28, 2011 at 4:30 PM

I understand why this might be attractive to marketers. But for users, SnapTag still requires them to download an app or take a picture and then send it to a specific number. Aside from aesthetics, how does this make it any easier for the user than QR codes? Isn't currently adoption the biggest issue with QR codes in the U.S.?

Dany goel
Dany goel November 28, 2011 at 4:22 PM

TxTImpact has Mobile QR codes or 2D code are codes in the same way as ordinary barcodes are, but their matrix structure can hold more information. The codes are also mobile in the sense that you can use the camera on your mobile device to scan and decode them. You can convert a web address (URL), a phone number, an email address or plain text into a mobile code. After scanning it with your camera phone, you will have instant access to the encoded information straight on the display of your mobile device.